SINGAPORE - In an effort to become more resource efficient, Microwave Packaging refreshed its paper lunch box design such that each box needed 35 per cent less paper than before.
This has resulted in a reduction of around 70 tonnes of packaging material annually for the manufacturer.
The paper lunch boxes are frequently used to store takeaway food such as chicken rice.
Microwave Packaging saw a surge in demand for paper boxes in 2019 as businesses moved away from single-use plastic and styrofoam boxes, said its managing director Leonard Lau.
This translated to a fivefold increase in paper usage from 300 tonnes to 1,500 tonnes a year over the last 10 years.
"When we were producing at a smaller capacity initially, we used a standardised sheet of paper to produce four boxes at a time so that it could fit into the printing press," he said.
But when the company started ramping up production, Mr Lau decided to improve the design of each box such that it reduced the paper content.
"Each sheet of paper was also customised such that we could print six boxes at a time," he said.
The newer design was also easier to manufacture and production jumped from 1,000 boxes per hour to 6,000 boxes.
"Overall, the costs incurred to produce each box has halved," said Mr Lau.
The company clinched the top achievement award under the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) segment for the Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) Awards for 2020 on Wednesday (March 24).
A programme to gear industries towards sustainable management of their packaging waste was also announced at the ceremony at the Singapore Manufacturing Federation Building.
The awards recognised the SPA signatories which have undertaken notable efforts and were successful in reducing packaging waste between March 1, 2019, and Feb 29 last year.
A total of 10 multinational companies or large local enterprises and five SMEs were recognised for their efforts in reducing, reusing or recycling packaging waste, and for the use of recycled packaging material.
More than 100 signatories were recognised for their efforts in reducing waste.
Launched on June 5, 2007, the SPA had brought together more than 200 organisations across Singapore by June 30 last year. Cumulatively, they have saved around 62,000 tonnes of packaging waste that amount to $150 million.
Other winners on Wednesday included F&N Foods, which managed to reduce close to 60 tonnes of packaging waste - equivalent to that generated by 24,000 households each day - by optimising its product packaging design.
Since 2019, Resorts World Sentosa has also replaced its disposable cups with reusable ones, and removed unnecessary packaging on its retail products, saving 3.4 tonnes of packaging materials each year.
Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, who was the guest of honour at the ceremony, said: "Packaging waste is one of the key waste streams we have been focusing on, as it constitutes about one-third of Singapore's domestic waste."
As part of Singapore's Zero Waste Masterplan, an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework on packaging waste will be implemented so that manufacturers will be responsible for the collection and treatment of their packaging materials, she said.
The EPR framework for e-waste management will be implemented in July this year.
A foundational step towards the framework is the Mandatory Packaging Reporting (MPR), under which producers of packaged products and retailers such as supermarkets with an annual turnover of more than $10 million will be required to collect packaging data and develop plans to reduce, reuse or recycle packaging materials. The first reports are to be submitted by March 31 next year.
This is aimed at drawing the attention of the companies to the packaging waste they produced and to encourage them to actively manage and reduce them, said Ms Fu.
"Beyond this, we will continue to engage the industry and target the broader EPR framework for packaging waste no later than 2025," she added.
The Packaging Partnership Programme (PPP) was also officially launched at the ceremony on Wednesday, which is an industry-led initiative by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation in partnership with the National Environment Agency.
The initiative aims to develop industry capability in the sustainable management of packaging waste, and help to raise awareness of the environmental impact of the packaging that companies supply to the market.
Workshops and training sessions will be organised for members to exchange best practices in the sustainable management of packaging waste.
Ms Betty Tan, chairman of the PPP Advisory Committee, said: "The PPP aims to be the one-stop resource point to assist companies in their reporting under the MPR, while encouraging more companies to join in reducing packaging waste through reducing, reusing or recycling packaging materials."